August 18, 2020

Let’s face it, if your band officially formed in 1971, had significant roots going back to 1967 and is still a fully functioning unit, then every year will be a significant anniversary of something or other. This definitely seems to be the case with the Blue Öyster Cult, and the celebratory releases are coming thick and fast these days. This is great news for the fans as the iconic BÖC are one of those bands that seem to get bigger and better as each year passes, and they are quite probably the most ‘cult’ band ever (no pun intended). So, let’s pop back to 2017 when Blue Öyster Cult were playing a series of gigs in the UK and Europe and, on June 17th, they played the Stone Free Festival at the O2 Indigo in London, which they marked by playing their eponymous debut in full plus selected highlights from their illustrious career. The cameras were there to record the event and was filmed in spectacular 4K which has allowed for multiple releases including vinyl, CD/DVD and stand-alone Bluray which covers just about every base.

The 75-minute set kicks off with their debut album in full, and it is great to see a band that can still do it live on stage and not exist off past glories – plus it is testimony to such a strong debut album that many of the tracks have gone on to be staples of their live sets ever since. In fact, if it is a while since you last played the debut Blue Öyster Cult album then do yourself a favour and give it a whirl, you’ll be amazed at just how fresh and contemporary it still sounds and, of course, it contains Then Came The Last Days Of May – one of the greatest and most moving songs of all time! The version of BÖC that recorded this live album was Eric Bloom on vocals/guitar/keyboards, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser on guitar/vocals, Richie Castellano on keyboards/guitar/vocals, Danny Miranda on bass/vocals and Jules Radino on drums/percussion, and what a tight and compact unit they make too. As ever, it is critical that Bloom and Roeser remain to ensure the dynamic of the band as they are the heart and soul of the team.

The debut tracks are played with style and aplomb to a devoted audience and the band give a show stopping performance as they feed off the vibe and energy of the audience, and all too soon the debut tracks are completed and then it is a short yet thrilling ride to the end of the set as the band delivers stunning versions of Buck’s Boogie, Godzilla, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, Tattoo Vampire and Hot Rails To Hell. It’s a cracking set pumped up with energy and suitably filled with crowd pleasing favourites simply designed to bring the roof down – and if Godzilla and The Reaper do not get you going then you are beyond redemption. The band are on fire and the video is beautifully shot, giving exemplary close-up shots, and puts you right in the front row, the best tickets in the house. The stage is rather minimalist and the lights used to enhance the audio performance i.e. they are not obtrusive which allows you to concentrate on the musicians. The sound is perfect and offered as either stereo or 5.1 mix which makes for a totally immersive experience. The only extra is a 5-minute clip of the band in a back stage lounge warming up which gives a taste of what it is like to be on the inside but is by no means essential. This is a band that has been around the block many, many times and they know how to deliver the knockout blow. This is heavy rock as it should be played with songs that are true classics from one of the greatest bands on the planet. Buy, settle down and simply revel in their genius!

Track List: Transmaniacon MC (3:34), I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep (316), Then Came The Last Days Of May (10:35), Stairway To The Stars (3:55), Before The Kiss A Redcap (5:30), Screams (3:06), She’s As Beautiful As A Foot (2:59), Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll (6:21), Workshop Of The Telescopes (3:48), Redeemed (3:48), Buck’s Boogie (7:34), Godzilla, (4:29), (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (7:02), Tattoo Vampire (2:47), Hot Rails To Hell (4:59).